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Lucky Strikes: Rap’s 50 Greatest One-Hit Wonders

By TC / 09.07.11
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It's a gift and curse to be on this list.

Yes, it's every artist's dream to create something that not only reaches millions of ears but puts some money in their pockets as well. But when you're only known for that one blip on the radar, the future is out of your hands and left for fate to deal with. Some go on to become laughingstocks while others watch their contribution go on to become historic. And the select few collect massive royalties to pay their bills with.

The criteria for this list is simple. It's all about the quality. A hit doesn't have to be classified as a Billboard chart-topper but the song did have to have impact. This is dedicated to those who have that one defining record that is the only lightbulb associated with their name. Not the Tone Locs and J-Kwons who had a couple marks on their record nor the Paperboy "Ditty's" and Marky Mark "Good Vibrations" of the world, who are just straight up wack.

The ones who were stars, even if it was only for roughly four minutes.

50. Iconz - "Get F*cked Up" (2001) -- Before Hip-Hop had an unhealthy infatuation with turning clubs on their asses, there stood Iconz, ready to party to the last drop of Belvedere was drunk. But since lyrics were still fashionable at the time, everybody just looked at them funny. If only they hit the scene a few years later...

49. Rob Jackson & Lady May - "Boom, Boom, Boom" (2002) -- Call this a two-for-one because neither the adept rhyming of Rob Jackson nor the stunning looks of Lady May could convince the people to buy into their T-Mobile Sidekick melodies. The song still bangs, though.

48. Shop Boyz - "Party Like a Rockstar" (2007) -- May the person(s) responsible for pumping these lame ducks up as the next big thing receive bubble guts at their next all-white gala. This song gained too much traction to ignore, however. Just ask Lil Jon whose Crunk Rock album was iced for a bit in attempts to escape its shadow.

47. Positive K - "I Got a Man" (1992) -- Every guy knows the scenario and dilemma and Pos K captured the situation perfectly. Unbeknown to some, he recorded as the female vocalist, showcasing his writing skills but they couldn't carry him to his second win.

46. Skee-Lo - "I Wish" (1995) -- Representing for all the underdogs and stepped-on losers of the world, Skee-Lo made a splash in Hip-Hop just by being himself. But as we all know, nice guys finish last and Skee-Lo wishes he could be higher on this list.

45. B Rich - "Whoa Now" (2002) -- Unless your name is David D., you weren't fooled by the limited talent on display to purchase an ENTIRE ALBUM. Yet, it was still good to see an untapped region (Baltimore) and childhood favorite (The Jeffersons) getting some radio love.

44. K7 - "Come Baby Come" (1993) -- Combining Latin jazz, booty bass and funky Hip-Hop all on one slice, K7 was destined to fail because he put all his eggs in one basket before anyone could figure out what his name stood for. Not before creating a pure summer anthem with a hella suggestive title.

43. Original Flavor Feat. Jay-Z - "Can I Get Open?" (1993) -- Back when Ski Beatz was a rapper and most MCs tried to cram 11 stanzas into one bar, Original Flavor was to be found in the mix. "Can I Get Open?" showcases the height of their popularity which famously featured a pre-Reasonable Doubt Shawn Carter silently drawing his blueprint to become the game's biggest attraction.

42. Choppa Feat. Master P - "Choppa Style" (2002) -- At the top of the century, No Limit Records was on life support and while "Choppa Style" didn't do much to revive it, an anthem for the utmost ratchet of booty shaking spectacles was born. If you're looking to trace the origins of Master P's dive into terrible fashion, you'll have to do some more digging.

41. Coo Coo Cal - "My Projects" (2001) -- Not a soul was wondering about the hoods in Milwaukee until Coo Coo Cal decided to tell them with his undeniably catchy single. The video was one to marvel at in its own right as there were bikinis, mink coats, wool hats and tank tops, leading to questions to what the temperature actually was. Let the tree branches tell it, winter was definitely in the air, however. You's a foo. Coo Coo.

40. Sporty Thievz - "No Pigeons" (1998) -- It's amazing how an intentional joke can go on to be well-received when there's no expectations at all for the record. That's what happened when a Yonkers trio not named The Lox decided to answer TLC's "No Scrubs" record. Sadly, the Sporty Thievz era ended when member Marlon Brando was killed by a wreckless driver after pushing a kid out of harm's way.

39. Tim Dog - "F*ck Compton" (1991) -- Who is Tim Dog? Oh, the guy from the Bronx who dissed Eazy-E just to get some recognition. Yeah, that's him. Forgive me, TSS, for copying and pasting his bio.

38. F.L.Y. - "Swag Surfin'" (2007) -- This ATL trio kept their plane soaring until the engine started sputtering and the wings started to droop. But Newton's Law tells us what goes up, must come down eventually.

37. Allen Iverson - "40 Bars" (2000) -- When you're as rugged as wrinkled jeans, a gangsta flow comes natural and Allen Iverson a.k.a. Jewelz was no exception. Unsurprisingly, a street single littered with diamond-encrusted gems like "murder," "faggots" and "niggas" didn't impress anyone in David Stern's neighborhood, so The Answer's rap tourney was over before it truly began.

36. Foxx - "Wipe Me Down" (2007) -- The Trill ENT soldier coined a Hip-Hop catchphrase, scored big on a platinum single and hasn't been heard from since. Wash him up.

35. CB4 - "Sweat of my Balls" (1993) -- Cell Block Four started off a little slow with a series of covers but they finally hit their mark when they just let their nuts hang. Straight Outta Locash is a classic and if you don't agree, then check the biggity balls!

34. Bone Crusher - "Never Scared" (2003) -- The features on both versions of this song included T.I., Busta Rhymes, Cam'ron, Jadakiss and Killer Mike, but sadly, everybody is still doing their thing except the song's owner. Undeterred, Bone Crusher did what any failed rapper does in these situations - he moved on to reality TV.

33. Ini Kamazoe - "Here Comes The Hotstepper" (1994) -- The lyrical gangster? Sure you were, Ini. Still, no one can deny his lone shining moment was indeed...hot. Excuse me, Mr. Officer!

32. Backbone - "5 Duce 4 Tre" (2001) -- This backwoods legend was down with the Dungeon Family but he could never get the dice rolling for his own solo status, outside of this rider cut.

31. Sylk-E. Fyne Feat. Chill - "Romeo & Juliet" -- It's a testament to the song's quality that it was able to skate through roadblocks like the cheesiness of the lyrics, over exaggerated chorus and the video, which is a whole 'nother clusterfuck in itself. What is that, velvet?

30. Mims - "This Is Why I'm Hot" (2007) -- From his earliest of interviews to his latest press releases, Mims has been adamant that he's not going to be an one-hit wonder. Four years and two albums later, there's still only one hit. Don't feel too bad for him; it was a big one.

29. Volume 10 - "Pistol Grip Pump" (1995) -- If Volume 10's reign in rap was to be compared to his shooting accuracy, he'd be like 1/1500. That connecting shot was an instant kill, however.

28. AMG - "Bitch Better Have My Money" (1991) -- AMG never amounted to anything, even with DJ Quik as a running mate for several years. His sole standout came in the form of him shaking down tricks for their dimes and nickels. If he didn't want 'em, Apache was sure to take 'em...

27. Apache - "Gangsta Bitch" (1992) -- The late Apache was much too hardcore to pop in the commercial world and his taste in women made that little tidbit painfully obvious. He favored the type of hoochie you couldn't bring to your mother unless you wanted to see a catfight. Thug in peace, Apache.

26. Smoothe Da Hustler Feat. Trigger Tha Gambler - "Broken Language" (1996) -- These real life blood brothers must have extinguished their entire rhymebook with just one song because they were barely heard from after this lyrical blowout.

25. Channel Live Feat. KRS-One - "Mad Izm" (1995) -- The beat just screamed Hip-Hop while the lyrics alluded to intoxicating lyrics of the highest strain. Shame they couldn't keep it smoking. KRS, you were Diddy in this equation.

24. Drunken Master & Lola Damone - "50 Niggaz Deep" (2001) -- For one of the more creative battle of the sexes records ever made, these two Fubu-wearing rookies counted off 100 accurate stereotypes.

23. "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" (1992) -- The Planets could have been The Fugees well before The Score went on to sell a gazillion records. But they bowed out gracefully with just one classic record instead.

22. Ahmad - "Back in the Day" (1994) -- A second childhood song so strong even the Californian melodic thinker couldn't escape it.

21. Wreckx-n-Effect - "Rump Shaker" (1993) -- Even though whatever a Wreckx-n-Effect is supposed to be was short-lived, this song will forever live vicariously through every pebble of sand in Miami.

20. Luniz - "I Got 5 On It" (1995) -- The Oakland-based duo gave their weed tales a clever spin by highlighting the freeloaders and contributers that come along with dating Mary Jane. Too bad they got high and forgot to do it again.

19. Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz - "Déjà Vu (Uptown Baby)" (1998) -- New York was well above their quota for shout-out anthems by the time Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz came around, so only an absolute classic was going to be allowed into the ranks. Thankfully, they delivered. Unfortunately, they broke up the next year.

18. Lords of the Underground - "Chief Rocka" (1993) -- Boomshacklayizzy y'all! These New Jersey representers were among the first to prove that you can bring the mainstream to the streets to even out the playing field. To pay homage, The Notorious B.I.G. sampled the track for his debut album, Ready To Die. Not long after, so was their run in the music biz.

17. Tag Team - "Whoomp! There It Is" (1993) -- Let the countless halftime breaks at sports arenas worldwide tell it, this song needs no further description. Pause at the 1:01 mark for an Obama cameo.

16. Young MC - "Bust a Move" (1989) -- Young MC's crossover appeal and storytelling skills were impeccable. His shag and ability to follow up was not.

15. Black Sheep - "The Choice Is Yours" -- (1991) "Engine, engine #9..." Black Sheep didn't choose to do much with their time in the spotlight, but we and those mice in the Kia commercials are thankful for the classic they blessed rap with.

14. Special Ed - "I Got It Made" (1989) -- A fresh-faced teenager from NYC came through with one of Hip-Hop's initial flossin' anthems, but he sure didn't look like he was living his rhymes, as he fizzled shortly after. For what it's worth, the song's first line is one of the most bitten in the culture's history.

13. DJ Kool - "Let Me Clear My Throat" (1996) -- When you're a DJ and you create the ultimate party starter (and finisher, no Mister Cee), you don't have to make any more records.

12. Sir Mix-a-Lot - "Baby Got Back" (1992) -- If you never heard this song at karaoke, then you've never been to karaoke. Sure, Mix-a-Lot released several songs before and after this (including "Posse on Broadway") but the assover crossover pretty much muscled out his discography. Not that he cares. The only work he's been doing these past years is walking to the mailbox to grab the royalty checks.

11. Akinyele - "Put it in Your Mouth" (1996) -- Akinyele hung out at the same "BBQ" as Nas but his legacy never matched his talent, aside from fathering the boldest oral sex song of all time. Sad thing is, the chick outshined his ass, putting all hopes of head before cunnilingus in check.

10. House of Pain - "Jump Around" (1992) -- I dare you to push play and not do as the song says. It's impossible. A staple for corny dance scenes in rom-coms for the past twenty years. Everlast shortly thereafter jumped out of the group and Hip-Hop as whole...after Eminem gave him a little nudge.

9. Sam Sneed Feat. Dr. Dre - "U Better Recognize" (1994) -- The then newly-signed Death Row artist joined the classic company of Snoop, D.O.C., Ice Cube and Eminem to hit hard early with a Dr. Dre track, but a brain tumor soon derailed the whole train. Since then, he's been quietly recuperating in the production credits of some your favorite rappers' albums.

8. MC Breed - "Ain't No Future In Yo Frontin'" (1991) -- Although it happened super early in a career that went on to produce dozens of songs that couldn't match its hype, Breed had all the posers and fakers dancing the uneasy two-step when his Flint, MI anthem hit the speakers. Jon Connor knows what I'm talking about.

7. Vanilla Ice - "Ice Ice Baby" (1990) -- Aight, stop. Collaborate and listen. MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice have always been likened but whether he was gangsta or gospel, Hammer didn't have much trouble getting on radio like his pasty counterpart. It wasn't "Ice Ice Baby" that destroyed Robbie Van Winkle; the now-guilty pleasure hints that he may have been ahead of his time with his harmless rhymes and appearance. It was the fact he couldn't duplicate another hit record to keep the competition, critics and Suge Knight off his ass. Call it luck of the Irish or whatever.

6. UTFO - "Roxanne, Roxanne" (1984) -- Who run the world? Girls. Untouchable Force Organization's big break not only birthed two careers in The Real Roxanne and "Dr." Roxanne Shanté, but it also received more responses than a world premiere diss record. Not bad for a love song.

5. Craig Mack - "Flava in Ya Ear" (1994)" -- The original Bad Boy torchbearer was at the peak of his stardom when he gave the masses a triple-X eargasm. The superior remix--on the other hand--proved to be his career deathblow as it kicked in the door for Biggie, leaving him a forgotten memory on his own label. You won't be around next year...

4. Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock - "It Takes Two" (1988) -- It's been spun, sampled and stripped to oblivion and still hasn't gotten old yet. These two may have not been "internationally known" previous to its release, but this song--and this song only catapulted them to having a career well pasts its intended 15 minutes.

3. Audio Two - "Top Billin'" (1987) -- MC Lyte may have more to talk about at family gatherings but her brothers will forever be co-authors of one of rap's greatest jams. What more could they say? Apparently not much. This was as good as it got, but dammit was it great.

2. The Sugarhill Gang - "Rapper's Delight" (1979) -- A classic so prominent it should be in the Roud Folk Song Index. Just ask your grandmother to go bar for bar with you. In hindsight, it trumps having a catalog full of party songs that don't transcend past their era.

1. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five - "The Message" (1982) -- A milestone in Hip-Hop that essentially introduced the culture to the theory of edutainment. It's a shame Melle Mel never got his public billing for the song but his lyrics paved the way for all forms of "conscious rap" as we know it today.

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